Jun 14, 2017
53
16
Hello, I am looking to get insight on my rough draft personal essay. This essay has been worked on by me about 3-4 times, and I'm simply looking to see if I have anybody who wouldn't mind adding some changes if time allows.

Thanks!
 

Attachments

Abby Atwood

2+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2017
640
389
Status
Pharmacist
Critiquing a personal essay is tricky. You don't want your voice to be lost. If I were you, I would get someone you trust and someone that respects your voice to read through the essay and work with you to find the best way to word each of your ideas.

It may help to add a thesis statement to your essay. It seems like the first paragraph is suggesting that pharmacy is different from (more than?) people imagine it to be, but the idea isn't summed into a clear statement and I have trouble picking out that thread in the paper itself.

You should add a topic sentence to each paragraph. paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 may be best combined into 1 or 2 paragraphs telling about your background and explaining your interest. You may want to fold paragraph 8, which deals with your experience as a pharmacy tech, into this this section as well.

Paragraph 5 seems to talk about your leadership and teamwork. I would use those words for the topic sentence of this paragraph.

Make sure the paragraphs transition smoothly. If it feels choppy when you read it back to yourself, you may need to add some transitions.

I would recommend arranging things a bit like you would a letter of intent. I've picked out some things from your essay that I see as fitting into these categories:

1. why are you interested in pharmacy
-interest in chemistry.
-love of learning

2. what qualifies you for a position with the school
-good understanding of basic sciences
-experience as a technician

3. what personality traits will be helpful in making you a successful pharmacy student/pharmacist
-leadership
-teamwork
-perseverance/tenacity

4. what are your future plans and how does pharmacy school fit with those plans
-desire to provide excellent patient care, help the community, and support future pre-pharmacy students


This is just my thinking, but I would leave out specifics of grades and PCAT scores. The school will be provided with those specifics without their inclusion in this essay. I would also leave out the discussion of your B in English. Your personal essay is supposed to showcase how great you are. Unless something about that B made you way more awesome, no need to call it out. The school probably won't view a single B as a big deal, so I don't think you need to take this as an opportunity to explain it.

Addendum: I would also leave out the negative view of healthcare providers in your final paragraph. Keep things positive.
 
OP
S
Jun 14, 2017
53
16
Critiquing a personal essay is tricky. You don't want your voice to be lost. If I were you, I would get someone you trust and someone that respects your voice to read through the essay and work with you to find the best way to word each of your ideas.

It may help to add a thesis statement to your essay. It seems like the first paragraph is suggesting that pharmacy is different from (more than?) people imagine it to be, but the idea isn't summed into a clear statement and I have trouble picking out that thread in the paper itself.

You should add a topic sentence to each paragraph. paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 may be best combined into 1 or 2 paragraphs telling about your background and explaining your interest. You may want to fold paragraph 8, which deals with your experience as a pharmacy tech, into this this section as well.

Paragraph 5 seems to talk about your leadership and teamwork. I would use those words for the topic sentence of this paragraph.

Make sure the paragraphs transition smoothly. If it feels choppy when you read it back to yourself, you may need to add some transitions.

I would recommend arranging things a bit like you would a letter of intent. I've picked out some things from your essay that I see as fitting into these categories:

1. why are you interested in pharmacy
-interest in chemistry.
-love of learning

2. what qualifies you for a position with the school
-good understanding of basic sciences
-experience as a technician

3. what personality traits will be helpful in making you a successful pharmacy student/pharmacist
-leadership
-teamwork
-perseverance/tenacity

4. what are your future plans and how does pharmacy school fit with those plans
-desire to provide excellent patient care, help the community, and support future pre-pharmacy students


This is just my thinking, but I would leave out specifics of grades and PCAT scores. The school will be provided with those specifics without their inclusion in this essay. I would also leave out the discussion of your B in English. Your personal essay is supposed to showcase how great you are. Unless something about that B made you way more awesome, no need to call it out. The school probably won't view a single B as a big deal, so I don't think you need to take this as an opportunity to explain it.

Addendum: I would also leave out the negative view of healthcare providers in your final paragraph. Keep things positive.
Thank you very much! I will make those changes asap!
 

lord999

Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2002
2,473
2,574
DC
Status
Pharmacist, Academic Administration
Good news:

You write in relatively standard, grammatical English. That's more than 85% of the ones I read.

A couple of points (and this will read harshly, sorry):

1. Your essay reads extremely generically. Except for the above (at least this is in English) matter, this repeats exactly what I (and most of the faculty) have heard from so many others, but do not live up to those standards once in or past pharmacy school. This is a personal statement, so I already know that you want to go to pharmacy school and that you have some arguably basic interests and competencies in the subject matter. You do need to mention them, but in the way that you do, they do not personalize the reasons for going to pharmacy school to you, which if this is also a Statement of Intent, would probably be rejected.

Take this paragraph:
Upon completion of the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters, I had made a name for myself in both the Chemistry and Biology departments. Many students and friends of mine would kindly ask for my assistance in certain subjects, and I would gladly assist them without asking for any kind of payment/compensation. Why did science, in general, become easy for me? Simply put, I understand the dedication it takes to succeed. I love to build my knowledge in both biology and chemistry; there is always more and more that you can learn. This challenged me to be even more dedicated, because I knew that assisting other students so that they could excel in their courses would help them to succeed. In my opinion, when all students are in a focused mindset and willing to learn, the learning environment is much more pure and one will feel much more dedicated. I understand the importance of surrounding oneself with peers who are as dedicated, as this will raise morale and dedication exponentially.

Let us read this critically. Did you actually tutor students in a demonstrable way? What happened when you did? Yes, you would need to discuss course performance within this paragraph, particularly for the OChem and AChem (if required for the program). How does knowledge of the sciences relate to how you interact with the world at this point? Remember, the point of the personal statement is to cast these qualifications in a way that personalizes the numbers I read on the Ad Com to you.

2. Revise these non-quantitative sentences. You might want to refrain from writing about mechanism of action here. There's a bit more specificity on how the NRTI and NNRTI's work (and boy is that a Board question), and that is not all how they work (and you will have to learn how they work and the differences).

For example, I learned the course of the HIV Virus, and that certain reverse transcriptase inhibitors can block this virus from replicating by mimicking DNA in the human body. I also learned a ton of information regarding immunology, with an interest in vaccines and immunizations. I am still researching pharmacy as a whole, and with each day of research I am gaining new knowledge about the field.

Recast this into something like:

During high school, I learned about the HIV virus with some details on treatment. In my freshman Human Biology class, we briefly touched on different approaches to HIV treatment. As I advanced in the biology and biochemistry series, these increasing level of detail and distinction interests me as while I have seen breathy references to a future cure or vaccine for HIV infection, this has not happened as of yet, and as I learn the details on how complex this disease really is, I know I want to learn more as although science advances, there always will be diseases where knowing the details makes all the difference in being able to help people.

Again, personalize, but also, your idea is sound, but cast this in a way that you are not done, but want to grow further.

3. The final paragraph should be a soft sell on why the school should take you. This paragraph is not supported anywhere else in your essay.

I believe that many health care professionals undoubtedly lack the empathy for their patients. In my experience, many medical doctors will simply treat a patient, and then go on to treat the next without any sort of personal communication/empathy. What I do understand is that certain treatments can be very taxing on a patient’s mental and physical capacity. I am committed to being the Pharmacist that will smile at every patient who is ill, and provide them with the perfect treatment so that they will soon be able to smile back. Being able to see a drastic transformation in a patient will be the greatest pleasure of being a Pharmacist, due to the fact that the patient can go home and smile with family members by their side. My greatest motivation as a Pharmacist is not to just prevent death, but to improve the patient’s overall quality of life!


So, if you scatter instances of empathy throughout the essay and the end with a revised form of this that unconsciously reads as "You want to take me as a pharmacist because I have a heart" (don't write this!!!), that can work. But you cannot make such an argument a hard sell like this without supporting evidence and expect me or any other reader to not immediately dismiss it.

---------------------------------------------------
The Professor in me:
1. The usual form of these essays should be of the thesis/antithesis/synthesis form. You don't have to (and actually if you are a decent writer, you should not) write an explicit thesis statement. The entire essay should make the thesis apparent. If your writing is not advanced enough to do this by implication, then write the explicit thesis statement. Patternwise, the recommended form is "I want to be a health-care professional", the antithesis is "But I am not one yet, but you can help me get there by admitting me", and the synthesis is "By helping me, you are helping the profession, the public, and yourself improve" or something to that effect. There are many, many different ways to approach this, but that is the standard pattern.

2. If you happen to end up in an admission committee, consider reading "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" before reading a bunch of personal statements. You are looking for someone who fits that profile in some form. Not necessarily like Albert Schweitzer or Mother Theresa (my advice is that someone should instantly reject applications if they read like that), but someone who is self-aware enough to struggle with identity at some level, like we are now with the fact that we are pharmacists and yet life still sucks :). And it can be as straightforward as "I'm poor, pharmacy is an indoor job that pays well and has dignity, and I want some of that." The only applications that I frankly would read that promise to save the world without worldly experience in doing so are BSW applicants, and they learn soon enough...

Gripe: And, most pharmacists (and I accuse the clinical pharmacists in particular) write like ****. The only reason VHACO does not routinely send Business Compliance notices to Clinical Coordinators is that pharmacist notes do not matter for billing purposes, thus Compliance would not have a stake. But if you cannot communicate that information succinctly and in logical order, then what you bill for will not matter as audit challenges would always fail. We do take the Physicians and Dentists to task for not documenting their decision-making properly as their failure to write does cost the hospital money.
 
Last edited:

gwarm01

7+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2009
2,398
3,125
Status
Pharmacist
Gripe: And, most pharmacists (and I accuse the clinical pharmacists in particular) write like ****. The only reason VHACO does not routinely send Business Compliance notices to Clinical Coordinators is that pharmacist notes do not matter for billing purposes, thus Compliance would not have a stake. But if you cannot communicate that information succinctly and in logical order, then what you bill for will not matter as audit challenges would always fail. We do take the Physicians and Dentists to task for not documenting their decision-making properly as their failure to write does cost the hospital money.
This low level of competition is probably why I scored in the 99th percentile of language / writing on the PCAT despite my essay style generally reading like the manifesto of a paranoid schizophrenic.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BidingMyTime
OP
S
Jun 14, 2017
53
16
Good news:

You write in relatively standard, grammatical English. That's more than 85% of the ones I read.

A couple of points (and this will read harshly, sorry):

1. Your essay reads extremely generically. Except for the above (at least this is in English) matter, this repeats exactly what I (and most of the faculty) have heard from so many others, but do not live up to those standards once in or past pharmacy school. This is a personal statement, so I already know that you want to go to pharmacy school and that you have some arguably basic interests and competencies in the subject matter. You do need to mention them, but in the way that you do, they do not personalize the reasons for going to pharmacy school to you, which if this is also a Statement of Intent, would probably be rejected.

Take this paragraph:
Upon completion of the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters, I had made a name for myself in both the Chemistry and Biology departments. Many students and friends of mine would kindly ask for my assistance in certain subjects, and I would gladly assist them without asking for any kind of payment/compensation. Why did science, in general, become easy for me? Simply put, I understand the dedication it takes to succeed. I love to build my knowledge in both biology and chemistry; there is always more and more that you can learn. This challenged me to be even more dedicated, because I knew that assisting other students so that they could excel in their courses would help them to succeed. In my opinion, when all students are in a focused mindset and willing to learn, the learning environment is much more pure and one will feel much more dedicated. I understand the importance of surrounding oneself with peers who are as dedicated, as this will raise morale and dedication exponentially.

Let us read this critically. Did you actually tutor students in a demonstrable way? What happened when you did? Yes, you would need to discuss course performance within this paragraph, particularly for the OChem and AChem (if required for the program). How does knowledge of the sciences relate to how you interact with the world at this point? Remember, the point of the personal statement is to cast these qualifications in a way that personalizes the numbers I read on the Ad Com to you.

2. Revise these non-quantitative sentences. You might want to refrain from writing about mechanism of action here. There's a bit more specificity on how the NRTI and NNRTI's work (and boy is that a Board question), and that is not all how they work (and you will have to learn how they work and the differences).

For example, I learned the course of the HIV Virus, and that certain reverse transcriptase inhibitors can block this virus from replicating by mimicking DNA in the human body. I also learned a ton of information regarding immunology, with an interest in vaccines and immunizations. I am still researching pharmacy as a whole, and with each day of research I am gaining new knowledge about the field.

Recast this into something like:

During high school, I learned about the HIV virus with some details on treatment. In my freshman Human Biology class, we briefly touched on different approaches to HIV treatment. As I advanced in the biology and biochemistry series, these increasing level of detail and distinction interests me as while I have seen breathy references to a future cure or vaccine for HIV infection, this has not happened as of yet, and as I learn the details on how complex this disease really is, I know I want to learn more as although science advances, there always will be diseases where knowing the details makes all the difference in being able to help people.

Again, personalize, but also, your idea is sound, but cast this in a way that you are not done, but want to grow further.

3. The final paragraph should be a soft sell on why the school should take you. This paragraph is not supported anywhere else in your essay.

I believe that many health care professionals undoubtedly lack the empathy for their patients. In my experience, many medical doctors will simply treat a patient, and then go on to treat the next without any sort of personal communication/empathy. What I do understand is that certain treatments can be very taxing on a patient’s mental and physical capacity. I am committed to being the Pharmacist that will smile at every patient who is ill, and provide them with the perfect treatment so that they will soon be able to smile back. Being able to see a drastic transformation in a patient will be the greatest pleasure of being a Pharmacist, due to the fact that the patient can go home and smile with family members by their side. My greatest motivation as a Pharmacist is not to just prevent death, but to improve the patient’s overall quality of life!


So, if you scatter instances of empathy throughout the essay and the end with a revised form of this that unconsciously reads as "You want to take me as a pharmacist because I have a heart" (don't write this!!!), that can work. But you cannot make such an argument a hard sell like this without supporting evidence and expect me or any other reader to not immediately dismiss it.

---------------------------------------------------
The Professor in me:
1. The usual form of these essays should be of the thesis/antithesis/synthesis form. You don't have to (and actually if you are a decent writer, you should not) write an explicit thesis statement. The entire essay should make the thesis apparent. If your writing is not advanced enough to do this by implication, then write the explicit thesis statement. Patternwise, the recommended form is "I want to be a health-care professional", the antithesis is "But I am not one yet, but you can help me get there by admitting me", and the synthesis is "By helping me, you are helping the profession, the public, and yourself improve" or something to that effect. There are many, many different ways to approach this, but that is the standard pattern.

2. If you happen to end up in an admission committee, consider reading "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" before reading a bunch of personal statements. You are looking for someone who fits that profile in some form. Not necessarily like Albert Schweitzer or Mother Theresa (my advice is that someone should instantly reject applications if they read like that), but someone who is self-aware enough to struggle with identity at some level, like we are now with the fact that we are pharmacists and yet life still sucks :). And it can be as straightforward as "I'm poor, pharmacy is an indoor job that pays well and has dignity, and I want some of that." The only applications that I frankly would read that promise to save the world without worldly experience in doing so are BSW applicants, and they learn soon enough...

Gripe: And, most pharmacists (and I accuse the clinical pharmacists in particular) write like ****. The only reason VHACO does not routinely send Business Compliance notices to Clinical Coordinators is that pharmacist notes do not matter for billing purposes, thus Compliance would not have a stake. But if you cannot communicate that information succinctly and in logical order, then what you bill for will not matter as audit challenges would always fail. We do take the Physicians and Dentists to task for not documenting their decision-making properly as their failure to write does cost the hospital money.
Thank you for the sound advice! I've just now got the time to revise, as this was a pretty rough draft. You mentioned a lot of details that will really help me out, I think I'll spend the rest of the day revising!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Abby Atwood
Jan 15, 2015
245
234
Hmm, if this is considered a "standard" writing style in our profession, then we are surely doomed... (no offense to the OP)

Things to keep in mind:
  1. You shouldn't analyze your PCAT score in your personal statement...
  2. "Pharmacists" & "Pharmacy School" should be all lower case.
  3. "I learned a ton of information regarding immunology.." - Just no.
  4. You should revisit the use of the word "sophisticated", both times you used it, it just seemed awkward and out of place (e.g. "... I made the sophisticated decision to...")
  5. I'm not feeling the inspiration, I just feel like you are telling me you made A's and did well on the PCAT... and yet, you are not even flexing your writing capabilities (if any).
I'm not trying to be rude, just giving some honest criticism... but it's okay, considering that schools nowadays are desperate for students -- you can get in if you submitted this personal statement raw.
 

Ph4rmacistJ

"We'll have it ready in about an hour"
2+ Year Member
Aug 12, 2015
146
87
Industry, California
Status
Pharmacy Student
I would have to agree, it does sound EXTREMELY generic, one of the things you didn't specify on is how you "shaped each semester around pharmacy". You can't really shape each semester around pharmacy, unless you mean trying to meet pre-requisites for pharmacy school, other then that I don't understand where you're coming from. That sentence was like a black mark on the entire essay for me which said, "I chose pharmacy because I heard it makes good money".

Also, try not to be so redundant on your wording, "dedicated" came up far too often among other things. Using the phrase "much more" is just adding loaded words which essentially makes me go back to the last time it was used and reiterate to myself what the author was trying to convey. Boasting about being able to tutor others and hoping for their success is interesting, but does it make you unique? You've got thousands of applicants who have done the same, so consider revising. I would suggest getting a job in a pharmacy to see where your passions lie, even if it's volunteering.

This essay lacks one big thing, PASSION, which makes admission committees stop to take in every word of the essay rather than breezing over it.
 
Last edited:
May 22, 2017
12
4
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
Hello. Its difficult to grade essays, but here's my two cents.

Your first draft of your personal statement was similar to my first draft. Its focuses about you journey in college which made you want to become a pharmacist. But it's missing one key thing: who are you?
In my opinion, a personal statement is about who you are, what traits you have, and how these traits will help you become a pharmacist. Your essay does state you traits, but its not very clear. The traits I received from your essay is that you're dedicated and that you are a kind person. Try to state character traits that define who you are state them in the first or second paragraphs. Then describe how you formed that trait and what you did that helped you for that trait in a paragraph.
By stating traits, you can tell the reader immediately who your are, and you can provide stories that proves that you have that trait. Admissions committee people read your application for 10 minutes then decide whether to send an interview invitation or not. Try to be clear and provide evidence.

For example, you are dedicated to becoming a pharmacist. You can provide a story what caused that determination (mechanism in the inhibition of the HIV virus [I'm guessing from your essay. bit confusing]), then follow up on what you started to do in order to become a pharmacist (becoming a pharmacy tech).

Also
1. Character limit is 4500. You have about 7000.
2. Reconsider using "sophisticated" as an adjective.
3. Have a family member or close friend read your personal statement. They can provide a different point of view. My aunt read my first draft and she told me to redo it immediately.
4. Don't talk about your grades/PCAT unless its absolutely necessary. The committee can see that on your application.
5. Share more experiences in the pharmacy that help solidified your decision to go into pharmacy, if you have any.
6. Remove the negative remarks of the health industry

Don't worry. I rewrote my personal statement like 10 times before I sent it.
Good luck!
 

Abby Atwood

2+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2017
640
389
Status
Pharmacist
Hey, your college/university probably has a career center and/or writing center that would provide you with free feedback on your essay. If you need additional or more personalized guidance, that would be the way to go. I wouldn't pay online for those types of services.
 
  • Like
Reactions: smercer
OP
S
Jun 14, 2017
53
16
Thank you everyone for the replies. I have revised the essay a bit, and would appreciate any further insight!


EDIT: Forgot to remove the discussion of my grades, but I did remove the PCAT discussion. Also, I am currently going back and removing any "filler" words such as "much more" and the like.
 

Attachments

Jan 15, 2015
245
234
Thank you everyone for the replies. I have revised the essay a bit, and would appreciate any further insight!


EDIT: Forgot to remove the discussion of my grades, but I did remove the PCAT discussion. Also, I am currently going back and removing any "filler" words such as "much more" and the like.
Before making any comments on your newest draft, I think your personal statement exceeds the maximum word count by a few thousand words. I would check the requirements on PharmCAS.
 
OP
S
Jun 14, 2017
53
16
Before making any comments on your newest draft, I think your personal statement exceeds the maximum word count by a few thousand words. I would check the requirements on PharmCAS.
Yes, the character limit is way too high. Im going to spend the weekend polishing that up a bit.
On PharmCAS I had thought it said "4500 words" but it is actually 4500 characters. my mistake